Mitt Romney pays a much lower tax rate than people who earn about as much as he does in one hour, without even having a job.
Fox News and its pundits have recently cried “class warfare” in response to calls addressing the historically low tax rate for the uber rich as a means to fix the country’s growing debt and deficit, despite the fact that the tax system is skewing income distribution upward.
One of the richest men in the country, Warren Buffett, has very publicly created the “Buffett rule” to help out the little guys and gals.
In an August 2011 op-ed in The New York Times, Buffett wrote that he thinks it’s unfair for his secretary to be taxed at a much higher rate than himself because “while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks … my friends have been coddled enough.” Thus, he is demanding the return of the tax rate system that was in place during the 1990s and an end to tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes.
As President Barack Obama has repeatedly said, “It’s not class warfare — it’s math.”
Many conservatives have called for the poorer half of citizens to be squeezed even more, instead of addressing our economic dire, which caused the World Economic Forum to rank the United States as 45th in the world when it comes to income equality.
Yet rightward sources still insist lower-class citizens are the ones who should be paying more in taxes to keep the country afloat. These are the people who they want to pay more while the rich are “coddled.”
According to a conservative estimate made by the 2010 census, 46 million Americans live in poverty. The declining prosperity of the poorest citizens seems even more desolate, given that 45 percent of citizens in the richest country in the world don’t have economic security.
This means nearly half of our citizens live practically, day-to-day, with the whole of their income going to pay for the necessities — food, transportation, housing and medical care — and are unable to save for the future, including for unexpected emergencies, like when a family member gets sick or another loses their job.
The tax system has seemingly been engineered to allow the rich to accumulate more wealth at the expense of the 99 percent. The working man doesn’t have the ability to hire lobbyists or accountants to find ways around paying taxes; his work with sympathetic legislators to decrease their minor tax burden instead.
The tax rate for the rich is the lowest it has been since 1950, which has contributed greatly to our country’s deficit. According to Business Insider, under President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, the top-bracket rate was a staggering 90 percent and we had a period of strong growth.
Growth increased after President Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993 and declined after the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. When Bush and many Republicans talked about tax relief for American citizens, their policy was to give tax breaks to the top 1 percent.
It’s no wonder the United States is in debt after entering two wars without raising revenue to pay for them.
“You have to acknowledge that part of our deficit problem was the huge Bush tax cuts in the early part of the decade,” Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“What was handed off to the new administration of over a trillion dollars of annual deficit, that accounted for almost half of it,” he said. “If you’re going to be real about the numbers, you’re going to have to address these kinds of things.”
In a recent debate, the Bangor Daily News reported that Maine state Sen. Jonathan Courtney, R-Springvale, said Democrats are playing “class warfare” with the Republicans’ recent bill to give further tax breaks to the top rates, while imposing a TABOR-like vice that has been voted down twice in a popular vote.
Decide for yourself if talking math is class warfare.
Noel Madore is a third-year public management student. He is a member of the College Democrats. His columns appeared on Mondays.